Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Why homosexuality?

Because it's been like, at least a good whole week since I've offended anyone (via blog, at least), I thought today would be a good time to write about something I've been pondering for a long time now . . . Why are Christians so hung up on homosexuality?

Now, I'm not even going to bother discussing whether or not homosexuality is a sin, or whether you're born that way or it's a learned behavior, etc.  That's way more debate than I'm interested in at the moment and, honestly, until I become fluent in written Greek and Hebrew and study the original scripture for myself, I don't think I can know for sure.  No, what I'm going to be questioning today is how and when homosexuality became such a huge, unforgiveable sin in Christian culture.

You see, the Bible doesn't say a whole terrible lot about homosexuality.  Of course, everyone knows the story of Sodom and Gomorrah from Genesis 19.  Not that the Bible specifies that God struck them down just because of homosexuality, since it's pretty well explained that those cities were immoral in all sorts of ways.  Leviticus 18:22 also pretty clearly forbids homosexuality.  (Fun fact:  Leviticus 18:19 forbids having sex while on your period.  I can totally agree with this rule because, seriously, gross.)

There are references to homosexuality in the New Testament as well, though it's more often mentioned alongside other undesirable behaviors as opposed to being condemned outright.  Also, because of translation issues from the Greek, the New Testament passages have been interpreted myriad ways by hundreds of scholars.  (Check out this link for a complete breakdown of different passages and their wildly divergent interpretations.  A very comprehensive and neutral study.)

Anyway, the point I just took so long to make is that homosexuality is not covered very often, or very clearly, in the Bible.  There are many more verses dealing with the more common sins of pride, lying, gossip, slander, etc.  However, you don't see the Westboro Baptist jerks condemning America for our tolerance of arrogant people.  You don't see ultra-fundies setting up camps to rehabilitate liars.  And if churches banned people for gossiping, we would have empty churches.  (A church without gossip seems like a fantasy, until I realize I probably wouldn't be allowed in, either.)

So what is it about homosexuality that so sets people on edge?  Why is it treated like a bigger sin than others?  Especially when the Bible doesn't treat it as such?  Jesus barely made reference to it.  In fact, the one time Jesus showed great anger at sin was when the moneylenders were trying to turn the temple into a den of commerce.  It makes me wonder how he feels about televangelists hawking $20 "prayer towels" to a naive and desperate audience.

Yet, no one is holding protest marches to tell them that they're Pharisees and they're going to hell.  And I honestly believe the reason why is almost entirely cultural.

Homosexuals are our current cultural bogeyman.  Much like the civil rights leaders were before, and women's suffragists were before that, and the Jewish race was for a few hundred years before that.  (I know some Christians who still believe that black people are cursed descendents of Cain or Ham, and that being "unequally yoked" means being in an interracial relationship.)

And, as ridiculous as it once was to think that Jews made soup from the blood of Christian babies, it is just as ridiculous to believe that homosexuals are mostly perverted and promiscuous, AIDS-ridden pedophiles.

A fellow member of my church (more of a passing acquaintance than a friend) recently came out as homosexual.  And it caused, what I'll call for censorship's sake, a poopstorm.  Some people were offended, some were supportive, and most were just shocked.  However, he received what, at least he felt, was enough negativity that he hasn't been back to our church since.

And, I reiterate, this isn't about whether homosexuality is a sin or not.  What it's about is our Christian reaction to it.  So, some of this man's friends disagreed with his position.  What if, instead of flat-out telling him he was wrong and deceived, they had said, "Okay man, whatever, we're still friends.  Mind if we grab dinner and talk about it, though?"

Like, if I came out and Facebook and said, "I worry far too much and use my intellect to keep people emotionally distant.  You can stop being my friend if you want, but this is the way I am."  Sure, maybe some of my friends would offer to pray with me, and help me try to overcome these sins.  Maybe they would try to show me that I don't have to be this way.  But I doubt everyone would jump away from me like I had spiritual cooties.

The thing is, I think homosexual people deserve to feel just as welcome in church as everyone else.  Whatever your orientation, we're all sinners.  We don't need to focus on "fixing" the homosexuals any sooner than we focus on "fixing" the prideful, or the liars, or whatever.  You come to Jesus as you are, and he fixes you, not other people.  Also, though miracles happen, it's usually a process, not overnight.

Also, having more LGBT people in church will be good for them, and good for Christians.  Part of our cultural issue is that not many evangelical Christians know a lot of openly LGBT people.  Fear of the unknown is all too easy.  But once you actually know a self-identified "queer" person in real life, it's easier to see them as that, a real person, and not a stereotype.

All throughout my life, I have known and been friends with a lot of queer people.  I even have a gay ex.  (I'm either so awful that I turn dudes gay, or so awesome that even gay dudes are attracted to me.  Take your pick.)  And I think knowing a lot of LGBT people and being able to relate to them as just that, as people, has done a lot to help my perspective.

I just realized that this post is approaching novel-length, so I'll wrap it up.  Dear fellow Christians:  Let's look at the Bible, look inside ourselves, and ask why we treat homosexuality like a more significant sin than others.  Then let's see what we can do to make homosexuals feel that we are not against them, or attacking them, but that we care about them as fellow human beings, and fellow sinners.

1 comment:

Michelle Craps said...

I just had this discussion w/ lady at work this past wk (not as eloquently tho) & she was saying well if u read ur bible everyday u would know it says homosexuality is an abomination, & I told her well if u read the book of james it says all sins r equal to God, etc. Mostly just pissed me off that she acted better than me b/c she "reads her bible everyday"; shoulda said well u know God hates divorce & ur divorced so how r u any better than "the gays" & really ticked her off then. Haha! But yeah we're all sinners & should b treated w/ respect no matter our orientation, & actually havin a good friend who's gay really changes ur perspective.

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